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Team USA Wins Third Straight, Beats Latvia 7-1

By USA Hockey, 04/28/24, 2:00PM EDT


Connelly collects two goals and two assists to lead Team USA

ESPOO, Finland - Trevor Connelly (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) posted two goals and two assists to help lead the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team to a 7-1 win over Latvia in the third game of the preliminary round at the 2024 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship. Team USA will take on Finland Tuesday (April 30) to decide the Group A winner. 

"I think we’ve established our identity really well through three games," said Nick Fohr, head coach of Team USA. "We've done a greata job of playing with energy and trying to play a fast style of hockey. We’re happy with where we’re at and excited for the next challenge in a tough Finnish team.” 

For the second time in three games, defenseman Cole Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) put the U.S. on the board in eerily similar fashion to his goal to open the tournament. Off an offensive-zone draw win from James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.), Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) worked the puck back to the defender. He came down and fired short-side from the left face-off circle for a 1-0 lead 26 seconds into the game. 

Team USA doubled the lead off a beautiful individual effort from Connelly (Manhattan Beach, Calif.). EJ Emery (Compton, Calif.) sent an outlet pass to Connelly in the neutral zone where he picked it up with speed. He carved through three Latvian defenders towards center ice and ripped a cross-body wrister over the glove of Micas Vecvanags for a 2-0 lead at 5:34. 

U.S. netminder Nick Kempf (Chicago, Ill.) came up huge with multiple highlight-reel stops throughout the middle of the frame, including back-to-back breakaway attempts on consecutive Latvian zone entries. Kempf made 15 total stops in the opening period. 

With 3:01 to play in the first, Stiga extended the U.S. lead to 3-0 on a one-timer from between the hashes. Hutson dropped it for Connelly into the offensive zone, he drove the left wing and from behind the net found Stiga in the slot for his sixth point in three games. 


LJ Mooney (West Mifflin, Pa.) put his name in the goal column at 7:55 of the second as he was the beneficiary of a tremendous pass from Connelly. After an extended offensive-zone possession, Connelly wheeled behind the Latvian net and flipped a pass to Mooney in the slot, who snapped it in. Emery was credited with the secondary assist for his first multi-point effort of the tournament. 

After scoring on a play that was reviewed and ruled offside earlier in the period, Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) netted a good goal with 4:25 to play in the second to make it five in a row for the United States. Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) created the play from behind the net as he centered it to Stiga in the slot. He deflected it over to Eiserman, who had a back-door tap-in for his tournament-leading sixth goal. 

With 1:07 to play in the second, Latvia's Daniels Serkins got one over the shoulder of Kempf, ending the netminder's shutout streak at 98:53 to begin the U18 Championship. 

Hagens added a sixth goal for Team USA on the power play just shy of the midway mark of the third period. He fired from the left dot after he was set up by Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) and Eiserman.

Connelly rounded out the game's scoring with a Trevor Zegras-style lacrosse goal for his second score and fourth point of the evening. 

Kempf finished with 20 saves to pick up his second win in as many starts. Caleb Heil (Victoria, Minn.) relieved Kempf with 13:21 to play in regulation and turned in a clean sheet, knocking aside all four shots he saw.

After an off day tomorrow, Team USA will finish preliminary round play Tuesday (April 30) evening against host Finland to decide the Group A winner. Puck drop is set for 6:00 p.m. local / 11:00 a.m. ET and the game will broadcast live on NHL Network. 

NOTES: With two goals scored, including the game winner, and two assists, Trevor Connelly was named Team USA’s Player of the Game … The U.S. went 3-4 on the power play while Latvia was 0-2  … Team USA outshot Norway, 37-25 ...  For complete tournament news, including full schedule, broadcast information, stats and standings, click here ... Team USA news, including tournament interviews and highlights, can be found at




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